February 9, 2015
Finally back in communications!
I thought I’d be posting from the road as we traveled, but this trip became so much more all-consuming than we’d expected. Nursing vintage 125cc two-strokes along 2,335km of mountains, rivers, dirt, and backroads was a totally awesome challenge. And a hell of a lot of fun too. Long days, beautiful scenery, off-the-track detours, friendly people, and random small town stops. Everything I love about moto-touring. We made it to Hanoi in one piece and now it’s time for yours truly to get back to work.
Dusty, Nicole, and Andrew have been keeping up-to-date on advrider posts, emails, and web inquiries. Things have been a lot busier so far this winter than we expected. I can see there is a lot of great new input on tank bags on our advrider thread too. I have some new thoughts on that as well after completing this most recent trip.
I’m posting from a meeting room at our apparel factory a few hours outside of Hanoi. I’m here with the factory development team working on our 2016 Mosko riding gear. From here, I’ll return to HCMC tomorrow to meet with David, Anton, and Ted to review the final bag revisions before production starts. The materials & parts have all been ordered and are on the way, now we just need some time on the production floor.
Here’s my review of the Reckless bags while the info is fresh. We’ve been in development on these two bags for over a year and a half, and they’ve had their fair share of on-bike testing, but this was by far the longest continuous trip yet.
Amarett took the 40L and I took the 80L. The shared 120L capacity was more than enough for a two-person, month-long, overseas trip without camping gear. Amarett, a shining example of minimalist travel, had plenty of additional capacity on the 40L, even carrying two liters of fuel in her MOLLE pouches. I carried the spares, tubes, tools, and supplies, plus a mini-laptop and some extra clothing for work, which fit fine in the large reckless with extra room left over. As we worked our way north, we acquired additional gear for wetter/colder weather, like boots, rain coats, and puffy jackets, so the extra space really came in handy, as did the beavertails.
After living out of these bags for a month through dirt, mud, rivers, mountains, heavy rain, and pavement: I love them. Obviously I am biased so I won’t even pretend this is an objective review. I know why every buckle is there and what every pocket was designed for, and we used them all.
Compared to the Backcountry/Scout Kits, the Reckless bags have a smaller capacity (80L compared to 110L for the BC Kit and 40L compared to 80L for the Scout Kit) and they don’t have the hard-plate, one-click mounting system. But they shave off a lot of weight from the bike without the mounting hardware and racks, while retaining the same 3-bag feel of traditional moto luggage. They’re really easy to get in & out of throughout the day, and it’s always easy to find what I’m looking for. I love that they can be fitted to almost any bike which can accommodate a passenger, even these little vintage 125cc Minsks.
Things I really like:
We also found some things to work on in future revisions. A few examples.
None of these was all that big of a deal, just some things to work on. The bags performed great and I am extremely stoked to get them in stock and start selling this spring. They held up great after a month of bumpy, dirty, wet riding and were a pleasure to use. The construction is totally bomber.
I also wore our new riding jersey the entire time. One jersey, 26 riding days in a row, with an occasional wash in the sink. The jersey is awesome. It’s mesh, so lets through plenty of air, but also makes a great base layer worn under other jackets. As far as I’m concerned the jersey is ready for prime-time. It has a more athletic fit than some other jerseys out there, but we’ll do an XL/XXL as well for stockier riders.
Adapters & Tank Bags
I’m just getting caught up on things back home now that I’m back in the city with good internet etc. I heard from Andrew that the BMW adapter saga continues, but is getting closer. Because the adapters are still underway, we haven’t started tank bags yet. In a way that’s cool because for selfish reasons I wanted to be around when we the development process kicks off, although it does mean we’re already a little behind on 2016 development. When I get home, the first thing I want to do is to condense all the awesome info on advrider into a single concept list for brainstorming. Then we’ll build/consolidate from there. It’ll be a fun process and I can’t wait to start.
This was such a fun trip. Early-on with Mosko, Andrew and I decided to focus our cut & sew in Vietnam — as opposed to other cut & sew countries like China, India, Bangladesh, etc — because we knew this is a place we would enjoy visiting, working, and riding in. For me, this trip just further reinforced that decision. Andrew and I have spent more than our share of time in the industrial zones of southern China, working at factories with transient labor and crowded in-house dormitories. It’s a drag. Working in Vietnam is a totally different experience. The workers and managers live in the local community, and they all go home to their families every night. The quality of life is so much better. People are friendly, welcoming, and helpful, and the economy is growing. I look forward to coming back. Plus, now that I’ve had a small taste of the moto-touring potential of SE Asia, I’m excited to come back on a bigger bike someday.
Here’s some other assorted pics from the trip.
Can’t believe the spring riding season is right around the corner!